Confessions of a 'recovery professional'

Confessions of a 'recovery professional'

A CIO said I was like the guy who turned up the day after hurricane Katrina -- I come in when technology transformations fail.

A CIO said I was like the guy who turned up the day after hurricane Katrina -- I come in when technology transformations fail.

It is a sad fact that only a small number of transformation initiatives (technology based projects or programmes) actually meet the original requirements. Even fewer are deemed a success, bringing about the benefits, improvements, and efficiencies listed in the original business case. Most suffer a torturous path (re-scoping, renaming, re-launching) to an end which usually doesn't involve seeing the light of day.

In recent years, in response to this declining situation, vendors and services firms have begun to offer programme assurance services. As initiatives have grown in size, complexity, and frequency, the focus has shifted towards governance and management. This is collectively known as Programme Assurance.

In spite of this, many initiatives still encounter difficulties and challenges which require remediation.

Firms that offer Programme Assurance services face a dilemma when it comes to the prospect of recovering a failed initiative. If a client has paid for Assurance services, then recognising a failure can open the door to unpleasant consequences. As such there is a conflict of interest for the same party to recover an initiative which has been previously assured. This is the main reason that recovery situations are rarely recognised.

Programme Assurance is a far more lucrative service line for firms to offer. It is funded explicitly in the business case and is well understood. Programme recovery however is funded informally, through deals struck between clients and service providers to ensure the 'legal peace' is kept and reputations are left intact.

As a result, very few firms offer programme recovery as a mainstream, explicit, service offering. These types of services would contradict the Programme Assurance model, recognising that it isn't always successful.

Assurance and recovery are two sides of the same coin. When assurance fails, recovery takes over. One service is formal and well documented; the other is less formal, with a greater emphasis on highly skilled, versatile, experienced personnel rather than a process.

Next: Cause of failures

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Tags IT managementdisaster recoveryhurricane katrinaBradley de Souza

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